Apps that protect students for schools and parents
by Alan Haskvitz

The Internet is both a blessing and a curse depending on its usage. The problem is that teachers/parents can’t always be there when the decision between the good and evil sites and messages are being utilized. With that in mind here are a list of some of those sites that provide this service. Some have a charge and others are free. The partial list below provides insights into what is available, but is no means complete. However, these might be a good starting point. Prices range from free to over $12 a month, depending on the type of coverage you want for your family. Always check to see if these sites cover both cell phone, tablet, and home use. Some sites can use GPS tracking and other services such as blocking of callers. Take your time reviewing each of these and always check the contract carefully. Teachers should also ask the technology department what blockers they use. Remember that students may be able to access the school server with their cell phones which can eat up bandwidth, especially if they are downloading large files. Please note that this list is just for information and is not meant to convey our approval and that prices can vary.

Covenant Eyes
Internet Accountability  tracks websites you visit on your computers, smart phones, and tablets, and sends them in an easy-to-read report to someone you trust.

Amber Safety
To provide parents with state-of-the-art, easy-to-use tools that help them protect their kids from threats online, at home, at school or anywhere they might go.

Phone Sheriff
PhoneSheriff allows the blocking of certain functions of the phone or tablet at certain times of each day. “For example you can tell the software to lock the phone or tablet every night at 8:00 pm until 8:00 am or whatever hours you choose. On smartphones you can choose to lock the entire phone or you can lock just the ability to make calls while the other functions of the phone remain operable.”

Open DNS
OpenDNS has parental controls that empower parents to manage Web access across every device that accesses the Internet on your home network. This includes phones and computers that your kids’ friends bring into the house and more.

App Certain
This service is free and includes features such as a remote curfew mode as well as an analysis of apps.

Norton Family Parental Control
This is a $50 service that enables you to check what kids are doing online, sets limits of computer time, and can monitor mobile devise activity and more. Check for a free version.

K-9 Browser
K9 Web Protection is a free Internet filter and parental control software for your home Windows or Mac computer. K9 puts YOU in control of the Internet so you can protect your kids. .

Mobile Watchdog
Mobile Watchdog monitors cell phone activity on Android devices — text messaging, application use, and browsing use. The app may be capable of sending usage emails.

This site has several packages and a variety of safety features. It monitors contacts with friends, pictures and posts on social networks.

For more free materials go to

Guided reading

By National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

For young and ESL readers guided reading presents a supportive and remediative form of learning to read that offers students the benefits of sharing accomplishments and overcoming weaknesses. It takes time to set-up, needs consistency, and a lot of time, but once the method is mastered it can nearly run itself if the necessary resources are available. Below are some of the best ones I could find about reading and guided reading.

Help for slow learning child

Strategies for motivating readers


Phonics and teaching reading

Videos about guided reading

A fairly comprehensive site

Most everything you need to know here from questioning skills to the time allocation.

A good how-to site

An excellent site for those just started using guided reading

It includes a full range of helpful resources.

A good wiki article

It explains how to do it and provides lesson ideas.

Making Guided Reading Multi-level

Introduces the four block method.

The Significant Benefits of Guided Reading

With Specific Instructions on How to Use Guided Reading

 9-11 Lessons and Links: 10th Anniversary Ideas

 by Alan Haskvitz

Voted 100 Most Important Educators in the World

for more resources go to

 From Time Magazine:

What my students did on 9/11

 9/11 Commemorations and Information

Get information about memorials, exhibits, and other means of remembering those who were killed or injured on September 11, 2001.

Videos about 9/11

Teaching about Patriotism

 A large link site with lessons and more


A free teaching booklet

 The best sites to teach about 9/11

 9/11 Memorial Site

Photos and information

 Lessons about terrorism

These are on terrorism.

 Links and a poem

The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorits

For older students

Time Magazine Photos

Middle School Brains: Teaching the Distracted

by Alan Haskvitz

Middle School help sites

The middle school years are very interesting in that students are making that difficult transition into adulthood while still being confined and confused by their minds and bodies. These easily distracted students are all the more difficult to reach because their brains are allegedly going through a brain spurt and they are also dealing with the onslaught of puberty.

Despite the physical and metal challenges the research does provide some insights and recommendations that can help clarify the teacher’s challenge.

There appears evidence that teenager’s who exercise their synapses more keep what they have learned better. Any teacher or parent who has dealt with a middle schooler clearly knows that their brain is not only a work in progress, but one that at times to appear to be regressing.

An interesting study by Dr. Judith Rapoport found that there was a fresh growth in the brain for girls at age 11 and boys a year later. Of note is the possibility that students have a more difficult time learning new languages after this development has taken place, which is prior to high school. In other words, middle school would be a better time for a second language program to be instituted.

As for emotions, middle school age students in a study done at McLean Hospital, reacted strongly to facial emotions instead of using a more mature, reasoned reaction. In other words, these young teens might be quicker to anger when exposed to stimuli that older students would ignore.

Since the prefrontal cortex, the area that deals with moods and control, is the the last region of the brain to mature, usually around age 18, those things that the student does most are the ones that are going to stay with him or her longest. So teachers are going to be competing for brain space with music, sports, and whatever else is rattling around in the teenager’s brain. Thus it is important to eliminate distractions in the classroom as a way to improve retention of data. Equally important is the need for teachers to retain the middle schooler’s attention by using the senses and emotions and asking thought provoking questions. Encouraging the students to use a variety of ways to solve a problem also helps build memory.

Here are some additional strategies that work with young teenagers. Develop integrated lessons that have a multitude of possible answers. Connect what is being taught to the student’s personal life and making lessons relevant. Understand that stress is treated differentially be males and females. Males seem to enjoy the challenge and females tend to show negative results in similar situations. Games and other competitive strategies should be used, but not overused.

Here are eight steps to creating middle school related lessons based on experience and brain based publications:

First, research from the federal government indicates that students remember material best when it is given in small amounts and repeated at later intervals.

Secondly, listening to music has never proven to improve study skills or memory. Indeed, research has shown that the brain cannot multitask. It can listen to music for a second and switch back to reading, but not at the same time. Although I have heard of some Gregorian chants having a positive effect, the research seems to indicate that using music in the classroom and at home while studying does not appear to have a positive impact on learning.

Third, active learning where the student participates in the process either by presenting or taking part in an activity is highly favored by most teenagers. But be aware the peer pressure is very dominate at this time. Thus having a teen working with those who are not motivated or do not honor work can reflect poorly on a child’s likelihood for success. Peer pressure is of more value to a teenager than a teacher or parent on the whole. That is why it is so important to check on their friends both in person and online.

Next, I use a form of teaching called linking. This means that any new information presented to a child must be linked to previously learned material before it can be considered mastered. I use a drill called three transfers which requires that the student use the information in three different ways. For example, any new fact can be made into a poem, put on a card, used as a mnemonic devise, told to a parent, by part of an art work, or written in code beside being used in their notes.

Drill and kill have been downplayed as good learning tools, but I disagree. They can be very comforting for some students when used within reason. Teens enjoy showing mastery of a subject and if that requires them to memorize a fair amount of information the challenge can be very invigorating. My students feel quite pleased with themselves when they know the 50 states and capitals and like to quiz each other on them. They feel a sense of accomplishment with such concrete forms of learning. However, this is not the best way to learn for those who have not developed the ability to control their concentration patterns. For those a more active approach is better such as creating songs and drawing large maps and labeling them.

Fifth, providing lessons and activities that require problem solving and critical thinking can provide for a better way to individualize and differentiate learning as it provides different styles of learners the opportunity to acquire knowledge. An active classroom is best and the use of a variety of methods is best. However, the recently published book by Daniel Willingham indicated that the brain was not really good at thinking without a substantial knowledge base. This book is a must read for teachers whether or not you agree with what he writes in Why Don’t Students Like School.

Sixth, students need to learn how to study. This requires routines and help in establishing organizational methods. In my class the first thing the students learn is how to study, organize, and develop study methods that best suit them. It is like coaching. You start with the basics.

Seventh, a student needs to understand the essence and importance of metacognition. In other words, knowing about knowing. The strategies for solving problems, evaluating how well that solution works, and having the stamina to complete the task are the basis of education and intellectual growth. A teacher who helps students develop the tools necessary to learn and apply what was learned has truly impacted the future. Especially, when those skills are broad and extend outside the reach of one subject area, which is domain general. Thus the middle school student needs to know both how to learn and how to evaluate if he or she has learned and how to correct weaknesses. That is why teachers who stress end of term or mid-term test over more frequent testing may be allowing to much time to pass between the evaluation of learning and the correction of errors.

Finally, perhaps the greatest need in teaching middle schoolers is “under-explaining.”The rise of the 64 count crayon coloring box from the basic eight and 16 reflects an interesting reflection on decision making for students. With fewer colors students learned how to use tints, tones, and shades of colors as well as mix new ones. With the advent of larger boxes of colors that need became one of choice and creativity pretty much was nipped. Like the small box of crayons, the simpler the assignment details the more the student can show what they have learned and be creative and personalize the learning more. Every teacher has heard the refrain, “How many sentences, words, pages, paragraphs?” This is essentially a request by the student to limit his or her thinking. That is why I recommend that assignments be more general with an an objective that can display the student’s acquired knowledge can be used correctly to identify what they know and offer the teacher an insight into what the pupil needs to learn.

Global Warming  Lessons and Links

By National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

Whether or not you believe there is a global warming trend or not, the teachable moment it represents it a major plus for integrating lessons in math, science, language arts, social studies, and economics. Here are some quality sites that offer free resources. Hopefully, you took advantage of the free copy of An Inconvenient Truth that was featured on Reach Every Child earlier this year. I shared my copy with the entire school.

Air and Weather sites

Transportation sites

To give background on why transportation is vital and its history.


Global Warming themes and lessons

A large link site.


Global Warming link site with the emphasis on definitions and articles,email-gs_15

Academic links

Some very good work here for a great debate.

Unit of Study

An Inconvenient Truth’s Lesson Plans

Photos of impact of global warming

Click on the boxes at the top of the site.

Global Warming: Does it Exist?

And other links that cover all grade levels.

Global Warming International Center

Alternative Actions

From the always excellent Constitutional Rights Foundation

EPA Site on climate


Teacher’s Guide to Global Warming

Global Pollution Map

Air Quality Maps by State

Updated daily

Environmental Ratings of Car Companies

A good way to integrate current events, science, and math.


Graph of global warming last 1000 years

Small math unit on impact of Global Warming

Nothing you couldn’t do yourself, but a nice template to follow.

There is no global warming and debate site


President Bush on Global Warming

And a rebuttal to the President’s comments

Ask the Climate Guy


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